Martin Scorsese writes tribute to Frank Vincent: 'I will always marvel at his artistry'

Photo: Getty/Universal
Photo: Getty/Universal

Director Martin Scorsese has remembered late actor Frank Vincent, who he worked with on Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995).

Depending on your mafia drama of choice, Vincent was either best known as Billy Batts in Goodfellas or Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos. He died on Wednesday at the age of 78 of complications from heart surgery following a heart attack.

Scorsese said in a statement given to The Hollywood Reporter:

"Frank Vincent was someone I could count on. He was a natural who was at ease in front of the camera — on a set or on a stage," he wrote. "He made it look easy in all respects. He was genuine.

"We worked together on three pictures, each time with his old partner Joe Pesci, and I always marveled at his genius for improvisation. He was a hard-working actor, he understood the world we were portraying so well that he really didn't appear to be acting at all.

"I will always marvel at his artistry, and consider myself lucky to have had the chance to work with him and to know him."

Sopranos Paulie Walnuts actor Tony Sirico also sung Vincent's praises.

"We had a lot of fun together. Great guy. Well respected. Great actor," he told THR.

"All I can say is we had a lot of fun. On the show, his character was working with another mob and I didn't get a piece of the action with Frank before Leotardo [Vincent's character] died. But, everybody loved Frankie."

Vincent's other major film roles included Brian De Palma's Wise Guys (1986), Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991), and Sidney Lumet's Night Falls on Manhattan (1996).

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